In less than two years, Danske Bank’s IT department in Vilnius has grown from zero to 600 employees. But there won’t be many more, says the director.
While over the past five years Danske Bank has paid out 3 billion kr. to get employees to voluntarily leave the Danske Bank Group, the story is quite different in Lithuania.
Four years ago there were only 30 employees working in a back-office capacity, whereas now there are over 1,000, and the number is growing by the day. The five existing sites used by the bank will be followed by a new office that is currently under construction.
At the same time, half of Danske Bank’s IT department is now located in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius. In just 21 months the department has gone from zero to about 600 employees, and only two weeks ago there were 72 vacancies being advertised on the digital screen by the department’s entrance.
“But we should not hire many more – perhaps up to 650 or 700,” says 32-year-old Marius Ivanauskas, who despite his cosmopolitan and intellectual appearance goes by the almost militaristic title of “chief of staff” for over 600 employees.
Since 2011, the number of full-time employees for Danske Bank Denmark has dropped from just under 12,000 to 9,800, while Danske Bank now has 6,300 employees working in “other activities”.
In Lithuania, they are in a constant battle with the rest of the world. It’s a sort of guerrilla war in which you never know where the enemy will next pop up. That is the attitude of Danske Bank’s development department in Vilnius, where MobilePay’s deathblow to Swipp is just one victory in an endless battle for market dominance.
“Thomas Borgen (CEO Ed.) has said that we must be the best digital bank, so that’s what we’re working on,” explains Ivanauskas.
The challenge is clear, and the head of the development of MobilePay, Martynas Sarapinas, nods in agreement with the analogy of waging a guerrilla war.
“Other banks’ payment is only part of the picture, and it is true of the challenges that we face from the likes of Google and Apple, which make their own payment systems. Therefore, what consumers ultimately choose to use can just as well come from China, or Chile or some other place in the world that works with FinTech. The bottom line is that consumers just want the simplest solution for transferring money between each other and to clear payments. If the system comes from a bank that does not matter, so we try to implement the best we find in the market,” says Ivanauskas.
After working for, among other companies, IBM in Ireland, Marius Ivanauskas is pretty much the embodiment of what Lithuania would like to sell to the outside world: a young workforce, with strong language skills, highly educated, ambitious and adaptable.
“We want a new Ireland,” states the representative of Invest in Lithuania, which has organized this first press visit to the Danske Bank.
Not about the money
Marius Ivanauskas has been to Ireland and has no desire to work abroad again, even if it meant earning a bigger salary. Ivanauskas chooses not to disclose how much he earns at Danske Bank, but according to the bank’s chief economist in Lithuania, Rokas Grajauskas, the average monthly salary is about 1,500 euros (about 11,000 kr.).
Lithuania is generally struggling with a migration problem. The small country of 3.5 million inhabitants is the largest supplier of labor to the UK but would like to see its best qualified citizens return home.
According to Ivanauskas, it’s about whether you can participate in successful projects and develop something that can be felt on a global scale: “It’s not about the company’s brand or what the company can do for me but what I can bring to it.”
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